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The Death and Life of Great American Cities

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Book - 2011 | 50th anniversary edition, 2011 Modern Library edition
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The Death and Life of Great American Cities was described by The New York Times as "perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning. ... [It] can also be seen in a much larger context. It is first of all a work of literature; the descriptions of street life as a kind of ballet and the bitingly satiric account of traditional planning theory can still be read for pleasure even by those who long ago absorbed and appropriated the book's arguments." Jane Jacobs, an editor and writer on architecture in New York City in the early sixties, argued that urban diversity and vitality were being destroyed by powerful architects and city planners. Rigorous, sane, and delightfully epigrammatic, Jane Jacobs's tour de force is a blueprint for the humanistic management of cities. It remains sensible, knowledgeable, readable, and indispensable.
Publisher: New York : Modern Library, 2011
Edition: 50th anniversary edition, 2011 Modern Library edition
ISBN: 9780679644330
Branch Call Number: 710.4 J17d1
Characteristics: xxxvi, 598 pages ; 19 cm


From Library Staff

In one of the most influential works on cities, Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) contends that people like to live in lively cities. She offers techniques to bolster the vitality of city blocks and to overcome the results of bad planning.

In her seminal work, activist Jane Jacobs forever changed the way we look at urban living. One of the most influential works on cities.

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Jul 28, 2019

"The scenes that illustrate this book are all about us. For illustrations, please look closely at real cities. While you are looking, you might as well also listen, linger and think about what you see."-Jane Jacobs
Contra the other commentators, I think this seminal 1961 book is still relevant, insightful, and provocative, especially given the rampant gentrification we see in many our cities. She also deals, albeit not as fully as one may want, with race, inequity, and poverty, which is probably even more relevant in 2019. Anyone concerned about cities and what cities means should read this. Also pick up "Wrestling with Moses," which is about her clash with the tyrannical city planner Robert Moses.

Jul 22, 2019


Jul 21, 2018

The first part contains some very acute analysis, but is now showing its age badly. One has to wonder if Ms Jacob’s vision of city centres packed with a mixture of small tradesmen, tourists and home-owners is gone for ever, however desirable it may be. On that basis I did not pursue the remainder of the book on recommendations for achieving her preferred state.

Aug 03, 2017

I reread this book after a many year interval to see how it would hold up to changed circumstances and increased scrutiny. It doesn't hod up very well, I'm afraid. Far too long. Mostly common sense, but not necessarily true, and not testable. Contradictory and tautological. And today's street users are focused on their gadgets, not other users, so the premise is false.

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